For the first time in nearly two weeks, Marcus Thornton saw time on the floor for the Sacramento Kings. The veteran guard logged 17 minutes for head coach Michael Malone in last night’s six-point, overtime defeat to the L.A. Clippers at Sleep Train Arena.
After starting the Kings’ first six contests, Thornton had fallen out of Malone’s rotation for the last four games. However according to the first-year head coach, Thornton earned back his place on the floor after performing well in practice this past week.
“I wanted to give him a look,” Malone said of turning to the 27-year-old scorer in yesterday’s loss to the Clippers. “He’s had some really great practices lately and has been putting in a lot of extra time. The way he’s been playing and shooting the ball in practice gave him an opportunity to have a matchup between him and some bigger guards.”
In his previous nine games, Thornton averaged 13.1 points, 1.3 assists and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes. He shot just 36.8 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point distance before sitting out the previous four contests due to coach’s decision.
Thornton had been benched by Malone in favor of third-year man Jimmer Fredette. In comparison, Fredette averaged a similar stat-line to Thornton in the Kings’ previous four games – 13 points, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes. He shot 35.3 percent from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc in appearances against the Phoenix Suns, Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Fredette did not play in yesterday’s loss to the Clippers.
Putting Thornton back in the rotation last night was not a one-game trial according to the Kings head coach. Malone anticipates giving Thornton an “extended stretch to try and showcase what he can do” for the next few contests.
“I talked to both he and Jimmer before the game and it’s not ideal to be going back and forth with who you’re playing as a backup two-guard,” Malone said. “But, the reality is we’re still kind of searching for a guy to cement that position and take it.”